Friday, July 1, 2016

Daily Headlines: July 1, 2016

* El Salvador: Around 300 protesters marched to the residence of El Salvador’s president and called for better prison conditions for inmates including suspected gang members targeted in a security crackdown.

* Brazil: The head of Brazil’s anti-doping agency was replaced though the sports ministry claimed it had nothing to do with the suspension of its Rio de Janeiro laboratory weeks before the start of the Olympics.

* Latin America: “We cannot remain frozen in the face of a decision that could be difficult and catastrophic,” said Mexico’s economics secretary in reference to the possible aftermath of this year’s U.S. presidential election.

* Colombia: Thirty-three people were arrested and eleven tons of cocaine seized in a joint counternarcotics operation involving Italian and Colombian authorities.

YouTube Source – CCTV Americas Now (From December 2012: An “in-depth look at the issue of prison overcrowding in El Salvador, where many are packed into penitentiaries way beyond their limits forced to live a life of filth.”)

Online Sources – The Washington Post, Yahoo Finance, Reuters, MercoPress

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 30, 2016

* Guatemala: An estimated 2.8 million people have been affected by a drought in Guatemala including 900,000 at risk of malnutrition and requiring prompt assistance.

* Mexico: The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico unveiled a plan to boost clean energy throughout North America and also pledged to strengthen economic ties in the region.

* Chile: Officials implemented a new law aimed at lowering Chile’s high child obesity rate by banning ads targeting minors under the age of 14 and prohibiting selling food with a toy prize.

* U.S.: The judge who controversially gave a lenient sentence to convicted rapist Brock Turner has been accused of racial bias for ordering a harsher punishment against a Latino defendant in a similar case of sexual assault.

YouTube Source – CCTV English

Online Sources – Al Jazeera, Voice of America, CBC, Fusion

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sao Paulo Separatists Buoyed by Brexit Vote

The June 23rd referendum showing a slim majority backed the United Kingdom leaving the European Union has led to increased talk of similar types of withdrawals. Some plans, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland possibly breaking away from the U.K., could easily become a reality. Others, however, seem to be not as serious and are more a pipe dream for their supporters. The campaign by a group of Sao Paulo separatists in Brazil fits into this latter category.

Calling themselves the Sampa Libre (SPL) movement, backers of the campaign have called on a plebiscite to be held on October 2nd to decide if Brazil’s wealthiest and highest populated state should become its own independent country.

“With the victory of those who defended the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union, it has become clear that times have changed and what appeared impossible can soon be realized. That will be the case for Paulista independence,” read a post on the SPL’s Facebook page that has been shared at least 12,000 times.

The SPL justifies their cause by claiming that Sao Paulo wanted to become its own country but was rejected by the “traitor” emperor Dom Pedro I who instead declared Brazil as its own country in 1822. The group further cited alleged “historical documents from the Portuguese crown where the king is warned to be alert against the Paulistas due to their “excessive love of liberty.’”

While the SPL’s move towards independence may be seen as a laughing matter, what isn’t is the potential effect the Brexit action could have on the Brazilian economy under recession.

Daily Headlines: June 29, 2016

* Cuba: A U.S. federal judge ruled that a group of Cuban migrants who climbed a lighthouse off the Florida Keys must be returned to their homeland as part of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

* U.S.: Non-citizen Latinos may be barred from voting in federal elections but a new report found that they are a politically active group and could play an important role in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

* Peru: President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski claimed a “social revolution” is needed to reduce inequality, particularly for the most impoverished regions of Peru.

* Mexico: Canada and Mexico reached key immigration and trade agreements prior to the start of the “Three Amigos” summit today of the leaders of both nations plus the U.S..

YouTube Source – Associated Press (From June 2015: “The US-Cuba relationship is changing, but the U.S. Coast Guard continues to interdict thousands of Cuban migrants risking their lives to take advantage of the controversial 'wet foot dry foot' policy.”)

Online Sources – NBC NEWS, CNN, The Atlantic, Xinhua

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 28, 2016

* Brazil: Rio 2016 Committee CEO Sidney Levy tried to downplay worries over the Zika virus and economic problems in Brazil as top ranked men’s golfer Jason Day became the latest high-profile athlete to skip the upcoming Olympics.

* Chile: Former Chilean military soldier Pedro Barrientos could be extradited to his homeland and face a criminal trial after a U.S. court found him liable for the torture and death of folk singer Victor Jara in 1973.

* Puerto Rico: Time is running short for the U.S. Congress to approve a debt relief package for Puerto Rico before a July 1st deadline to pay $2 billion of its $70 billion debt.

* Venezuela: The opposition coalition claimed to have sufficient signatures to commence a recall referendum process against President Nicolás Maduro.

YouTube Source – CCTV News (From May 31, 2016: “Despite scientists' calls for the Games to be moved or postponed over fears of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization insists that the Olympics and Paralympics ‘will take place during Brazil's wintertime when there are fewer active mosquitoes and the risk of being bitten is lower.’”)

Online Sources – ABC News, Reuters, BBC News, Latin American Herald Tribune, The Age

Monday, June 27, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 27, 2016

* Panama: After months of construction delays, cost overruns and worker strife the expanded Panama Canal reopened on Sunday and is expected to generate $2 billion in annual revenue.

* Chile: Chile’s golden generation of soccer players steered the men’s national team to second consecutive Copa America victory in the span of twelve months.

* Colombia: While Colombia is on the cusp of a historic peace deal with the FARC rebels, the government has offered tax breaks to companies investing in projects located in regions ravaged by armed conflict.

* Paraguay: Fernando Lugo, the former president who was ousted in 2012, said he would run again for Paraguay’s highest political office in 2018.

YouTube Source – Associated Press

Online Sources – USA TODAY, The Huffington Post, Fortune, teleSUR English

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 22, 2016

* Colombia: The Colombian government and FARC rebels will reportedly agree to a bilateral ceasefire, which could serve as a precursor to a final peace deal that might be reached in about one month from now.

* U.S.: Lionel Messi broke the record of most goals for a player on the Argentine men’s national team as the albiceleste had little trouble beating the U.S. by a score of 4-0 in a Copa America Centenario semifinal.

* Mexico: Tensions continue in the Mexican state of Oaxaca following clashes between striking teachers and police that left at least eight people dead.

* Puerto Rico: Debt negotiations between Puerto Rican officials and bondholders ended without a resolution despite a July 1st deadline to avoid falling into a major default.

YouTube Source – euronews (Last month “the Colombian government agreed on a plan to reintegrate child soldiers from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, into society”.)

Online Sources – BBC News, UPI, Bloomberg, CNN, Reuters

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 21, 2016

* Venezuela: Moody’s credit agency warned that Venezuela could fall into a debt default this year starting with state-owned oil giant PDVSA.

* Brazil: More concerns over the upcoming Rio Olympics center on security following the muggings of two Paralympics hopefuls from Australia and an attack on Rio’s largest public hospital.

* Cuba: Russian media reported that the government of that country plans to develop several “production faculties” in Cuba as the island could serve as a “window” for Russia to Latin America.

* Argentina: Argentina’s most wanted criminal could help reveal possible endemic corruption under the rule of ex-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

YouTube Source – CNN

Online Sources – CBC, CNN, TASS, Bloomberg, InSight Crime

Monday, June 20, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 20, 2016 (Updated)

* Brazil: Acting President Michel Temer will reportedly urge federal legislators to approve an $850 million emergency payment to help fund the cash-strapped Rio de Janeiro state prior to the Olympics this August.

* U.S.: The semifinals of the Copa America Centenario are set with the hosts U.S. facing pre-tournament favorites Argentina and Chile looking to capitalize off their quarterfinal mauling of Mexico by beating Colombia.

* Latin America: A new study from Global Witness concluded that Latin America remains the most dangerous region for environmental activists with four countries from the region accounting for 100 recorded deaths of environmentalists last year.

Update: On a related note, a former Honduran soldier claimed that slain environmental activist Berta Cáceres was named on a purported hit list of social activists targeted by the military.
* Ecuador: Family members of some of the 688 fatalities from a 7.8-magnitude earthquake marched in Portoviejo on the two-month anniversary of the tremor.

YouTube Source – euronews

Online Sources including Update – teleSUR English, NPR, Sports Illustrated, BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg, The Guardian

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 16, 2016

* Honduras: Approximately 500 people rallied in Tegucigalpa and urged for an international investigation into the murder approximately three months ago of indigenous rights activist Berta Caceres.

* Venezuela: At least four people including a sixteen-year-old teen have died in recent days amid growing protests over food and medicine shortages.

* U.S.: A poll released this week found that a whopping 89% of Latinos view presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump unfavorably.

* Mexico: The new special prosecutor appointed to the case of 43 Ayotzinapa students missing since September 2014 has come under fire for purportedly attending the wedding of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in 2007.

YouTube Source – ODN (From March 2016: “Thousands of mourners turned out for the funeral of slain Honduran indigenous leader Berta Caceres.”)

Online Sources – Rappler, Al Jazeera English, ABC News, Business Insider

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 15, 2016

* Latin America: The U. N. Development Programme warned that 25 million Latin Americas that escaped poverty could soon fall back into serious financial hardship due to a “lengthy economic crisis and social exclusion in the region.”

* U.S.: The Latino community in Orlando, Florida tries to recover from the massacre of forty-nine people at a local nightclub including twenty-three Puerto Ricans as well as victims from Mexico as well as Venezuela.

* Argentina: Argentina’s foreign minister reiterated her county’s sovereignty claims over the Falklands but called on an “open dialogue” and better relations with the U.K.

* Puerto Rico: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the upper house will debate a debt relief bill for Puerto Rico later this month yet very close to a July 1st deadline for the island to pay $1.9 billion.

YouTube Source – DW (English) (From September 2015: “Agriculture is helping Paraguay's economy expand fast. Growth came in at about 5 percent last year. But many people still live in extreme poverty.”)

Online Sources – NBC News, ABC News, El Pais, Reuters, MercoPress

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 14, 2016 (Updated)

* Argentina: The quarrel between Argentina and Monsanto could soon come to an end with both sides purportedly on the cusp of reaching a deal over inspecting shipments of genetically modified soybeans.

* Paraguay: The speaker of Paraguay’s lower legislative chamber will urge the Attorney General’s Office to commence a probe into the deaths of eleven peasants killed in a 2012 massacre that was used by the opposition to impeach then-President Fernando Lugo.

* Mexico: Mexico's Immigration Institute claimed that human traffickers have adopted using luxury tour buses in order to smuggle migrants from Central and South America.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan officials appealed to the country’s Supreme Court in order to halt a referendum process that could lead to the recall of President Nicolás Maduro.

Update: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today announced the start of "high-level talks" with Venezuela but also supports having the planned referendum and pushed for the liberation of all political prisoners.

YouTube Source – AFP (From October 2014: “In Cordoba, Argentina, a group of environmentalists decided a year ago to block the construction of a corn processing plant of US seed giant Monsanto, in opposition of its use of genetically modified crops.”)

Online Sources including Update – Reuters, BBC News, ABC News, Latin American Herald Tribune

Monday, June 13, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 13, 2016

* U.S.: LGBT centers in the area of Orlando, Florida are working to offer Spanish-speaking grief counselors in light of the massacre of at least fifty people during an “Upscale Latin Saturday” party at the Pulse nightclub.

* Puerto Rico: U.S. President Barack Obama in his weekly address urged the Senate to quickly approve a plan that would help alleviate Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt.

* Brazil: According to “two unpublished academic studies” researchers have detected a “super bacteria” present in the waters of several venues of the upcoming Rio Olympics.

* Guatemala: Three former ministers who served under disgraced ex-President Otto Perez Molina were arrested on corruption charges while around 2000 protesters in Guatemala City rallied in favor of greater political transparency.

YouTube Source – Jornalistas Livres (Vigils were held in several Latin American cities including Sao Paulo in solidarity with the victims of the mass shooting of at least fifty people in Orlando on Saturday).

Online Sources – PBS NewsHour, Fox News Latino, Reuters, Deutsche Welle

Friday, June 10, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 10, 2016

* Brazil: Prosecutors in Brazil might press criminal charges against eight employees of Samarco, Vale, and VogBR in relation to a dam collapse that killed at least seventeen people last November.

* Puerto Rico: The Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision ruled that charging a suspect with a crime in the U.S. and Puerto Rico is “double jeopardy” and, thus, unconstitutional.

* Colombia: Colombian health officials are expected to break Novartis’ monopoly over popular leukemia drug Gleevec by forcing the firm to lower prices but might stop short of permitting generic production.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan government’s new food distribution program is not settling well with some consumers seeking basic items and critics who believe the plan is unfairly rewarding ruling party loyalists.

YouTube Source – Associated Press

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, The Washington Post, The Hill, Reuters

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 9, 2016

* Brazil: Hundreds of pairs of underwear were laid on Copacabana beach last Monday as part of a protest calling attention to violence against women including the recent suspected gang rape of a sixteen-year-old girl.

* Panama: Shell companies purportedly used by the Cuban government to circumvent the U.S. trade embargo against the island join Argentina’s president and a Chilean anti-corruption activist as some of the entities mentioned in the “Panama Papers”.

* Haiti: U.S. and European Union officials are none too pleased with the decision to rerun Haiti’s disputed presidential elections twelve months after they were first held.

* Guatemala: A UNICEF study found poverty, sexual abuse and machismo have fueled a “shocking” amount of child sex trafficking in Guatemala.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – The Huffington Post, The Latin Americanist, Quartz, euronews, The Miami Herald

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 8, 2016

* Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court justice could allow for the arrest of four members of interim President Michel Temer’s political party over their alleged obstruction in the “Lava Jato” corruption probe.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan electoral officials approved a petition with 1.3 million signatures seeking a referendum for the possible removal of President Nicolás Maduro, while police and National Guard troops fired tear gas at anti-government protesters yesterday.

* Mexico: A new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative and Mexican human rights groups admitted that an “immense majority of violent crimes have been committed by criminal organizations” but accused government security forces of purportedly committing crimes against humanity.

* Peru: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski leads with tens of thousands of votes ahead of Keiko Fujimori in the presidential runoff that continues to be much too close to call.

YouTube Source – France 24 English

Online Sources – BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Voice of America, ABC News, Bloomberg